I Robot movie (Isaac Asimov)

Discussion in 'Isaac Asimov' started by padders, Jun 18, 2004.

  1.  
    padders

    padders System Lord of ASciFi.com

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    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    From what I heard this film has absolutely nothing to do with Isaac Asimov or his book "I Robot†(an anthology of nine unrelated short stories that was published in 1950.)

    It was originally to be called "Hardwired" and was written as a 'robots-gone-mad' 'action-packed flick'. To give it a greater marketing presence they cynically added Asimov as a writing credit, inserted a reference to the 'Three Laws of Robotics', and stuck in a character called Dr. Susan Calvin (who Asimov reused several times.)

    Where Asimov's 'Laws' prevent any robot from doing harm, this film has the opposite occurring.
  3.  
    padders

    padders System Lord of ASciFi.com

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    Doh.

    Wonder if they will ever do some decent Asimov films. I would love to see the foundation books made into films on the scale of Lord of the Rings .... can't see it happening though.
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    padders

    padders System Lord of ASciFi.com

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    Archon

    Archon New Member

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    interesting

    I read the synopsis on their cool flash website and it sounded alot more like one of Asimov's robot detective novels (Elijah Bailey and R. Daneel) than any of his short stories. The characters in his short stories usually have their original assumptions completely blown away, rather than confirmed.

    Oh and the roboticist looked a little younger than the main roboticist in the story (as I remember).

    The movie looks worth seeing however, just on the basis of its outstanding computer graphics. The masses of lined robots reminded me of that massive chinese tomb of an emperor who had an entire army of clay men (and horses) buried with him (no expert, can't even remember the name).

    (yay, my first post on a forum based around a topic I love)

    EDIT: On an interesting side note, Will Smith was selected to play the main character. I think this was done specifically because Asimov rarely mentions race, and when he does I (who have read much Asimov) have noticed that all of his main characters are white and usually white males. Thus, they have already shown his readers in a very specific way that this movie will not be simply a transcription of his writing.
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    ray gower

    ray gower New Member

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    Well done and welcome, Archon!

    I would agree that the synopsis does sound as if it is going further than the original stories on first pass. But I think it is mix and matching bits from various stories.

    We do have a thread in films discussing it here http://www.ascifi.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=15774

    Personally, the only major qualm I have is the star of the show (Wil Smith).
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    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    I didn't mean to say that the movie wasn't worth seeing, but I think many people will be seeing it under the assumption that it is an adaptation of an Asimov book, and I think that's wrong. New paperback copies of the book that have been rushed out even have a photo of Wil Smith on the cover.

    There was an 'Outer Limits' episode called 'I, Robot' too, Written by Brad Wright. Leonard Nimoy was in it. It has nothing to do with that either, but it does show that many people think that 'I, Robot' is a cool title to use.

    Apparently, what has really got some people worked up is that an authentic screenplay adaptation of 'I, Robot' already existed, having been written by Harlan Ellison in the late 1970s and reportedly given approval by Asimov (the two were friends).
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    Coops

    Coops New Member

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    All the movies I have seen that attempt to tie in with Asimov's laws of robotics fail to grasp the concept that these laws are inviolate. I know that they have to have murderous malfunctioning robots to make it at the box office and humaniform robots with quasi human emotions (ie. Cmdr Data) are too good for Hollywood to pass up. But Asimov created suspense and tension without actually breaking any of the laws. (true, the zeroth law is a cop-out). I think they (Hollywood) should stop invoking "The Three Laws" when they have no intention of treating them as laws.
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    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    It is a problem with adapting books to movies in general...

    (apologies for long post but i think it is an interesting article)

    http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2004-07-15-sci-fi-main_x.htm

    I'm not sure I agree with the Blade Runner criticism, since Deckard realises he is an android too in the end, and it really doesn't matter if he leaves with Sean Young or not, there is no getting away from that.

    Otherwise, I mostly agree with what they say, though there should be a distinction between making a short story into a film (when it is perfectly acceptable to add new plot and fill it out) and adapting a novel to film (when it ought to be fairly close to the original.)

    Harlan Ellison always seems to have some axe to grind. He still complains about Gene Roddenberry re-writing his 'City at the edge of Forever' 'Star Trek' script, but I think he is probably right when he says Asimov would be "spinning like a gyroscope".

    -- Dave
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    Annette

    Annette This is Star - my honey!!

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    Saw a trailer for this last night, hadn't realised it was already in book form (if that makes sense). It does look good. Perhaps I'll have to get a copy of the book to read. What do you think?

    annette :)
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    Coops

    Coops New Member

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    The book is a collection of short stories from the 1940's published in 1950.

    Robbie
    Runaround
    Reason
    Catch that Rabbit
    Liar!
    Little Lost Robot
    Escape!
    Evidence
    The Evitable conflict

    None of them has anything to do with the plot of the movie. I think the woman in the film Dr. Susan Calvin, is a character in many of Asimovs strories
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    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    I haven't had time to see this film yet, but I do want to sometime. This article in the 'San Fransisco Chronicle' refutes all those claims that Issac Asimov would have hated the film, and the author of it seems to be the best placed to know, even better than Harlan Ellison:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2004/07/25/PKGG47P63L1.DTL&type=movies

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    Annette

    Annette This is Star - my honey!!

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    well, that sounds good enough to me. if his daughter likes it, it can't be too bad. she sounds a lovely person. :D

    annette :)
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    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    Re: interesting

    I've seen the film now and also read 'The Caves of Steel' and I would say you are spot on. The film isn't based on any of his stories in particular, but you can see all the same themes there. I've made a rather extensive review of the film in the thread in the film forum that Ray linked, so I won't repeat myself here.

    Del Spooner, the character played by Will Smith has an interesting reason for his dislike of robots that you discover about 3/4 of the way through the film. Up until that point you assume that it is because he is what Asimov called a 'medievalist' or a 'Luddite'. Susan Calvin mentions that maybe his father lost his job to a robot, and says that is a 'rascist' attitude. There are also a number of other black characters in the film including the police lieutenant who is his boss. My own take on this, was that they were trying to reinforce the impression of robots as the new slaves, doing the work of humans for no pay.
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    The Wanderer

    The Wanderer Zelazny's Worlds

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    Re: I Robot movie (issaac Asimov)

    Terrible film, shocking
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    j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Re: I Robot movie (issaac Asimov)

    I'll admit that I've avoided this film like the plague, just on the trailers.

    However, I must admit the following bit tickled me:

    Right.... One should never say something like that when the work is actually available for comparison. That screenplay saw publication not only in Asimov's magazine (in serial form) but also as a book. No, it's by no means a "literal retelling", but it would have made a very taut film... also a very thought-provoking and intelligent film -- light-years away from most of the (supposed) sf dreck we get on the screen these days. And at least Ellison's film (while making quite dramatic changes from Asimov's book) did stay true to the spirit of the thing, though giving it a much more modern sensibility. I'd recommend reading the screenplay (which is actually very accessible reading).

    And as for the book... actually, though a collection of stories, they were related; Asimov saw them that way at the time; though the Powell & Donovan stories were modelled on some similar characters John Campbell had created earlier for Astounding (when he was writing for but before becoming editor of)... about the only story that isn't in the direct line (he had to add a tiny bit inserting a young Susan Calvin, as I recall) was "Robbie" -- originally published as "Strange Playfellow", a title he always hated. While he did write a framing story for the collection to tie it all together, they were a lot like Heinlein's Future History, in that they were a connected series (or two series that converged, with the same background to both), and they built on one another toward a whole picture. Episodic, yes, but definitely connected.
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    MolotovCocktail

    MolotovCocktail Science fiction fantasy

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    Re: I Robot movie (issaac Asimov)

    I didn't think that movie was all that great. I personally thought it was just another one of Hollywood's cheap action flicks, except with "I, Robot" attached to it. It didn't even remotely follow the book or the Robot Series at all.
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    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Brian G. Turner Staff Member

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    Re: I Robot movie (issaac Asimov)

    I got to watch this last night - got to admit, I've never read any of the robots stories, and was expecting Hollywood pap.

    However, I actually enjoyed this film - there was a decent amount of tension, the effects on the new robot faces were great, and although not a particular brain teaser I thought it was otherwise an entertaining film.

    Certainly when regarded apart and unrelated to Asimov, and when watched with very low expectations. :)
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    Snowdog

    Snowdog New Member

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    I watched this the other day as well, for the first time. Unlike Brian though, I had read the robot stories. If I hadn't, I might have enjoyed it more.

    I did like what they did with the robots, except when they had them bouncing around on the sides of buildings. Must've been anti-gravity robots :p

    But the mangling of Asimov's stories was pretty dreadful, killer robots controlled by a TRON-like artificial consciousness about as subtle as a sledgehammer, and as far away from the clever stories as you could get.

    And Will Smith... I like Will Smith and he can't be blamed for this script. Enough said.

    4/10
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    engelbach

    engelbach New Member

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    Regardless of what Asimov's daughter said, there's nothing in Asimov's writing to confirm that he would be interested in a mindless action film like the very juvenile I Robot.

    Asimov was a thinker and a principled man. The Hollywood leeches who used his title for their film are parasites. Thanks to them, countless movie-goers are left with a false impression of what Isaac Asimov was all about, and no reason to care to find out.

    The film is a disservice to Asimov's talent, character, intellect, and reputation.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2007

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